Wine: Drinking on a diet: a slimline tonic?

We drink wine for enjoyment, not with the aim of losing weight

THE "MOMENT on the lips" mantra usually springs to mind in the middle of a mouthful of something horribly creamy or chocolatey. It never struck me that the "lifetime on the hips" pay-off might apply to wine. But in the light of Atkins, South Beach and now the GI (Glycaemic Index) diet, wine too seems to be cashing in on the Bridget Jones market. Weight Watchers launched its acceptable if unexciting Riesling and ensuing low-calorie range a couple of years ago (2003/4 Riesling, pounds 3.99 Asda). This month, California's Brown-Forman brings us Chardonnay One.4 and a Merlot One.6, which sell on their low carb content, despite a relatively high 13.5 per cent alcohol. I wouldn't recommend them.

Consume more calories than you expend and you put on weight. With nine calories per gram, fat contains more than twice as many as carbohydrates and proteins. The good news is that there is no fat in wine. The less good news is that alcohol is the next most fattening substance with seven calories per gram. It gets worse. Wine also contains other carbohydrates, basically grape sugar. This is fermented into alcohol in a dry wine, while sweet wines like sauternes, port and sweet sherry retain sugar by the sackful. Calories come mainly from the alcohol and sugar in wine. They provide energy but no vitamins, minerals or fibre. Because of the rapid rise and fall in blood-sugar levels, drinking wine makes you hungry.

You can't take the calories out of wine without removing the flavour any more than you can take the marbling out of a steak. Where Weight Watchers et al score is in exploiting the wide variation in calories from one wine style to another. Port and sweet sherry, fortified with brandy and sugar, contain the greatest number of calories. At the opposite pole, a light German riesling at 80 calories per glass (whether or not it's Weight Watchers' riesling) is roughly equal to a slice of brown bread. In between, your average glass of dry white, red or even champagne, with 100-odd calories, compares with the calories of a skinless chicken breast.

So wine needn't be a no-go area for the diet-conscious. In moderation it even has its place in Atkins and the Glycaemic Index (GI). Better still, recent research from Colorado State University actually suggests that red wine doesn't contribute to weight gain and that there are no grounds for recommending reduced alcohol consumption to maintain or reduce body weight. Equally significantly, an obesity study into the relationship between alcohol and weight gain reported in January's `Alcohol in Moderation Digest' concluded that of the 50,000 women studied, those who gained least weight over a period of eight years were the moderate consumers of alcohol.

Nobody in their right mind will drink wine to lose weight, though, just as no one drinks wine just for its well-researched cardiovascular benefits. We drink it because it goes with enjoying company, relaxing and good eating. Follow a few basic commonsense principles and you don't have to sip gimmicky brands aimed at dieters. As a general rule, drink wines which are lower in alcohol and drier, for instance German riesling (lower in alcohol than New Zealand riesling), dry sparkling wines and dry French and Italian whites and reds in preference to sweet, fortified wines and more alcoholic wines. Drink from a smaller glass and with a meal. Follow the simple Rose Diet Plan: eat and drink less and exercise more.

Suggested Topics
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all